• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Jerry Brown For President?

Jerry Brown

California Governor Jerry Brown, who has run for President three times in the past, isn’t ruling out a run in 2016:

If he weren’t the nation’s oldest governor, a ripe 75, Jerry Brown would automatically be counted among serious Democratic candidates for president in 2016.

He boasts a household name, an impressive list of accomplishments in the country’s most populous state — a state some once deemed ungovernable — glowing national media coverage and a deep familiarity with the pitfalls and rigors of a White House bid, having run three times before.

Now, some are pushing Brown to consider another try for the White House, even if it means taking on Hillary Rodham Clinton, the prohibitive, if still undeclared, Democratic favorite.

“I think Jerry is precisely what America needs,” said Rose Ann DeMoro, the leader of a national nurses union and a strong political ally of Brown. “He has the courage of his convictions, which we haven’t seen in a very long while.”

Brown, who is up for reelection in 2014, has not yet stated his intention to seek another term, though he has raised millions of dollars for what would appear to be an easy campaign.

Asked if Brown would categorically rule out another presidential bid in 2016, a spokesman, Jim Evans, referred to a statement Brown made in May at a California Chamber of Commerce breakfast. Citing his past primary victories, Brown said “time is kind of running out on that.”

“I guess I’ll just have to stay and do the work of being the governor, which I actually enjoy because I have some perspective that I didn’t used to have,” Brown said

Indeed, Brown has been a far different Governor than he was when he first served in the office between 1975 and 1983. Gone is much of the left-wing rhetoric and policies and the somehow hippie reputation that had developed around him at the time, for example. Instead, he’s proven to be a fairly competent manager and someone who has managed to use the powers of his office to push back against members of his own party as part of an effort to get California’s finances back under control:

The governor has widely touted California’s comeback and his record as a model for the rest of the country and, especially, a dysfunctional Washington, D.C. With support from an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature — and a combination of spending cuts and voter-approved tax hikes — Brown has brought the state’s deficit-ridden budget under control, overhauled the education finance system to benefit poorer students, pushed through major environmental initiatives and reaped the benefits — job growth, an improved housing market — of a slow but steady economic recovery.

“Things happen in California that are not happening in Washington,” Brown said during an October appearance at an electric-vehicle expo in San Francisco. “We can do a lot of things in California to shift the [political] climate throughout the whole country.”

In a victory lap a few weeks later, he traveled to the nation’s capital and ticked off the bills he had signed, including immigration-friendly legislation and laws promoting green energy. “We didn’t wait for the federal government,” he crowed.

At the same time, Brown has established himself as a moderating force in Sacramento, pushing back against liberals on issues such as gun control and business regulation, which, to some, suggests an effort to shed the kooky Left Coast image of his first time as governor, more than 20 years ago, and craft a more centrist profile ahead of 2016.

“Every move he’s making is the move of a presidential candidate,” said Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate, who has run several times himself and would like to see Brown make another try for the White House in two years. “It’s almost a blueprint.”

Thanks in no small part to Brown’s efforts, California has largely eliminated the large and seemingly insurmountable annual deficits that the state was running and brought the state’s budget into balance. There still remains a ton public debt out there that remains as a legacy of the recent past, of course, but stopping the bleeding is an accomplishment in and of itself. The question that the state now faces is how it’s going to pay off that debt, and what its going to do to prevent the loss of small businesses to neighboring states with lower tax levels that still seems to be an ongoing problem.  Nonetheless, as the article notes, Brown has been a surprise in office in many ways and, ordinarily would be considered a top tier candidate for President even in an era when Hillary Clinton seems to be dominating the race for the nomination.

The caveats against Brown, though, are many. First of all, there’s a national reputation from his time on the national scene in the 70s and 80s that still seems to exist in many people’s minds. This reputation was an issue when he was only one of three serious candidates for the Democratic nomination along with Bill Clinton and Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas. More importantly, though, is Brown’s age. He’s 75 now, and he’d be 77 when the Presidential race starts in earnest in 2015, and 79 when  the next President takes office. That’s a full ten years older than Hillary Clinton and it strikes me as perhaps being too far down the line for him to be considered a serious candidate.

Leaving all that aside, though, it is somewhat amusing to see the guy once best known for being Linda Ronstadt’s boyfriend and who earned the moniker “Governor Moonbeam” for his seeming association with the 70s California counter-culture being touted as the serious business-oriented manager candidate. Times have indeed changed.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Barfour says:

    He will be 78 in 2016. He will probably be too old for the rigours of the modern day presidential campaign.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  2. edmondo says:

    “He has the courage of his convictions….”

    That pretty much disqualifies him from the Democratic nomination, doesn’t it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @edmondo: No. That only disqualifies one from the GOP nomination. Democrats are different.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    is somewhat amusing to see the guy once best known for being Linda Ronstadt’s boyfriend and who earned the moniker “Governor Moonbeam” for his seeming association with the 70s California counter-culture being touted as the serious business-oriented manager candidate.

    Considering how far the CA GOP has fallen, they had no choice. ;-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  5. michael reynolds says:

    Jerry Brown just did what all the conservative mouthpieces said was impossible: he raised taxes on the wealthy and balanced the budget. They predicted millionaires would flee the state and we’d lose jobs. Instead our UE rate has come down from 12.5% to 8.5%. Obviously still too high, but going the right direction. And as for the well-off fleeing to Texas, real estate has gone up over 20% in a year here in Tiburon, which is a pretty good indicator.

    So once again that would be: right-wing “economics” full of baloney.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  6. stonetools says:

    I would like to see him run. But he is SO old.

    Where are the 50-60 year old Democratic presidential candidates. The leaders in pollling (Clinton, Biden and Brown) will all be 70 and older in 2016. And the Democrats are supposed to be the young people’s party!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  7. Andre Kenji says:

    I always remember of that Dead Kennedy song when I read his name.And the album that has this song is older than me!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  8. Andre Kenji says:

    @michael reynolds:

    And as for the well-off fleeing to Texas, real estate has gone up over 20% in a year here in Tiburon,

    I don´t want to sound like some member of the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal, but that´s part of the problem. If real estate goes down California will probably faces a considerable deficit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. michael reynolds says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    Have I shown you where I live? This isn’t directly from my house, but it’s essentially identical to my view, and it shows graphically why California real estate doesn’t stay down.

    We’re California. Beautiful weather, beautiful views, redwoods, Yosemite, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, Tahoe, San Francisco, wine and weed. A thousand years from now people will still pay for the privilege of being a Californian.

    I get bent over and screwed out of 10% of my income by this state. And every time I resent it I ask myself: where else? I can live anywhere, my job doesn’t tie me down. Where else? I could save 50-100 grand a year by moving to Texas or Florida. And yet, I’m here. And it’s worth it. It’s worth 100 grand a year to me not to be anywhere else in the United States.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. al-Ameda says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    I don´t want to sound like some member of the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal, but that´s part of the problem. If real estate goes down California will probably faces a considerable deficit.

    And yet, if that happens again (and such accurences are cyclical), I’m guessing that millionaires will not flee the state to live in low-tax-paradises like Mississippi.

    Brown has been effective becvause he is a pragmatist and he has no agenda other than to get California back into governable shape – and he’s done really well. He increased taxes on the highest earners, he got an initiative passed that permitted a state budget to be adopted with a simple majority vote instead of a super majority vote (GOP obstruction is always a problem … sound familiar?)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0